Martha MacCallum is the anchor of Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum."
Martha MacCallum a TV news anchor based in New York who leads Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”
She spends each day plugged into the news, preps her show with a team of producers, and gets home around 5 p.m. for family time.
Here’s what her job is like, as told to freelance writer Nick Dauk.
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As a TV news anchor, my workday rarely plays out the way I expect it to. I try always to be flexible and present, and be ready for something unexpected. After St. Lawrence University, where I majored In Political Science and minored in Theater, I studied at Circle in the Square in New York.
I began my journalism career at Corporate Finance Magazine, then continued onto the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and finally Fox News, where I’ve worked since 2004.
My alarm goes off a little later now than it used to. For many years, I did “America’s Newsroom” so I used to get up at 4:30 a.m. Currently, I anchor “The Story with Martha MacCallum” which airs at 3 p.m. EST Monday through Friday.
I’ve always loved daytime news, so after spending four years at 7 p.m., my 3 p.m. show is a welcome change. It’s the same routine, shifted backwards by a few hours, and most nights, I’m home for dinner on time for the first time in several years, which is great.
These days, I wake up at 6 a.m. and always my day by scrolling through my phone while in bed. I look at all of the newsletters and blogs that have been pouring in since around 5:30 a.m. This helps me orient my brain for the day.
After 30 minutes, I take a few sips of coffee and start an hour-long workout, either in my home gym or outside. Whenever the weather is good enough – and I have a pretty low bar for good enough, if it’s anywhere above freezing or even slightly below – I’ll run outside.
I might squeeze in a few personal things on my to-do list before grabbing a shower and heading into work.
We’ve been back in the newsroom studio since June 2020.
MacCallum on the set of her nightly show.
Thankfully, a renovation prior to the pandemic has given us more space around our desks for social distancing. With some of our team still working remotely, it’s quieter to the ears and eye, but there’s still a lot going on behind the scenes. I’m pretty old school: I like a busy newsroom and look forward to the day when we can all be face-to-face again.
Early in the day, my executive producer, senior producer, and I kick around ideas for the night’s show, like which stories to cover or guests to feature. We try to have a solid rundown draft by our crew meeting at 9:30 a.m. so then the segment producers can start generating soundbites and clip montages.
After shifting stories or swapping out segment ideas, the show is usually 80% locked down by 1 p.m., but of course breaking news can always cause us to change the format, even when we’re live.
The biggest change with “The Story” is that the news flow is pretty active at 3 p.m., so while we’re digging deep and getting great guests and analysts on the news of the day, we’re also the place to be for breaking news. Those are my roots, I love covering breaking stories and building on the reporting and bringing in voices to add to the coverage.
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Breaking news is electrifying in the control room.
I think anybody who does live news lives for those moments. We love it when breaking news gets in the way of our plans. We embrace it and take our audience with us as it unfolds – I think the viewers like being part of that process.
Outside of my regular show prep, I also do segments for other shows throughout the day on the Fox News and Fox Business channels, like “America’s Newsroom” and a podcast called “The Unknown Story.” Sometimes we’re also working on long-term projects that we may hold onto for a little while to use as a larger story.
Outside of my regular show prep, there are always other pieces moving throughout my day.
My daily show routine changes significantly if I’m interviewing a guest from a remote location.
For example, on December 1, we landed the first interview with President Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Pascale, when he was in a high-profile, difficult domestic situation. I met with him in Washington, we taped in the afternoon, and did that night’s full show live from FOX’s Washington studio.
Time usually flies when we’re live. In my opinion, a “perfect” show has a lot of energy; it’s dynamic, it has strong conversation, and it mixes in analysis, news, and opinions. When it moves fast and operates at a strong pace with breaking news, that’s a perfect show to me.
When they count us off air, it’s exhilarating if you feel like you’ve done a good job managing the breaking news. That’s when I’m most in my element.
After the show, I usually leave after 4 p.m. and get home around 5 p.m. in time to see my husband and kids.
MacCallum usually finishes her day at the studio around 8 p.m.
By then, I’m ready to hit the refresh button and spend time with my family. It’s challenging to take those mental breaks to refresh; I try to unplug and separate to the greatest extent that I can. Still, I am plugged in to some extent most of the time, keeping an eye on my emails and my phone, but if there’s something important that I need to know immediately, someone on my team will reach out.
I try to go on an evening run to get the dogs sleepy and enjoy the fresh air. When I get into bed, I may send off an email or two, but I’m usually reading. I try to keep a book by my bed that’s something completely different from work to help me unwind the brain a little. Right now, I’m reading “The Unbroken Thread” by Sohrab Ahmari.
I manage the stress of being a public figure by running and working out most mornings, and by remembering that what matters most in life is the love of your family and friends.
It’s easy in this social media world to get sucked into the hole of industry gossip and comments on Twitter. I read very little of it. Stay focused on honest work and remember what you love. In my case, it’s giving viewers a voice of reason in challenging times. That helps keep me grounded, and I hope it does the same for our viewers.
For those interested in pursuing a career as a TV news anchor, my advice has always been if you have a burning curiosity about the times you live in and finding the truth of any story, then this business is something you should pursue. It’s not about you, it’s about the viewer. Above all, be you, use what you bring to the job to the fullest of your abilities. And stay strong!
One of the biggest challenges about being back to work in New York is that New York isn’t back. Everything that used to exist all around us – the bustling streets, the restaurants teeming with people – all of that isn’t here now. That element of the experience of working in New York is so different now, which is really sad to me. 21 Club was right around the corner and was an NYC landmark that we’d go to on special occasions. Its closure is a huge loss for Midtown and speaks volumes for how difficult the pandemic has been.
I miss seeing our full team in the newsroom. We’re a family. We’ve all worked together for a long time and to be separated from each other is what I miss the most.
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